Wednesday, 16 January 2008

The highly deluded Ron Paul

Presidential candidate Ron Paul's brand of do-nothing foreign policy is deservedly eviscerated by Bret Stephens in today's Wall Street Journal, and unfortunately it demonstrates why not everyone waving a libertarian banner is a libertarian's friend.

Paul's remedy for the world's ills is for America to leave them alone.  Leave them alone and all the terrorists will go home, wagging their tails behind them.  This is not a policy, it's wishful thinking.  And it's not libertarianism, it's the same brand of fantasy-laden pacifism espoused by Ron Paul's hero Murray Rothbard -- a pacifism that led Rothbard to conclude at the very height of the Cold War that the Soviet Union was not expansionist, was "devoted to peace," and so posed no threat to the United States who should therefore disarm completely. Talk about rationalistic delusion in pursuit of foreign policy.  It's the sort of foreign policy you find espoused either in lunatic asylums, or in Keith Locke's and Ron Paul's foreign policy teams.  But I repeat myself.

Stephens reminds readers of George Orwell's observation of English pacifists that pacifism is a doctrine that can only be preached behind the protective cover of the Royal Navy.  And it's worth observing that Thomas Jefferson's rational foreign policy of "trade with all, and entangling alliances with none" -- a policy badly mangled by Paul -- led inexorably to the building up of the US Navy to sweep the North African coast of pirates threatening the world's trade routes. 

What's truly unfortunate, as I've had cause to point out here before, is that to the extent that Paul is successful in having his deluded brand of do-nothing foreign policy equated as being libertarian, he is doing serious harm to rational libertarianism -- to the basic recognition that the right to self-defence requires the means of self-defence, both at home and abroad, particularly at this time when threats from abroad are so malignant.  It is wrong, as Stephens does, to identify this necessary protection with the Leviathan state, but it is Paul's irrational libertarianism that encourages him to make that connection.

It is for reasons such as these that a rational libertarian has to conclude that Ron Paul is not a friend of liberty, and that the extent his candidacy is successful in capturing public attention is the extent to which he damages liberty's cause.


  1. Pleased you picked up on Jefferson vis a vis Paul.

    Jefferson was effectively saying "If you want peace, prepare for war", rather than pacifism.

  2. I think Stephens misses the point, as do many commentators. Ron Paul, it must be remembered, voted to invade Afghanistan. The real debate is what America's interests are, not how far it should go to defend those interests.

    On this subject I am not in full agreement with Dr Paul, but his view represents mine better than any other presidential candidate, or indeed, George W Bush.

    To say he is an "enemy of freedom" on this basis is just hysteria, and I continue to shake my head at this obsession among hardcore libertarians with burning heretics.

  3. Actually it the Navy was formed under John Adams (an 'anglophile' and francophobe) in response to a threat from Napoleonic France. Adam's opposed fighting the barbary pirates.

    Jefferson, (an anglophobe and francophile) initially opposed forming a standing army, but was happy to send Adams Frigates and Marine Corps after the barbary pirates Adams was wanting to appease...

    Here in lies Ron Paul's fatal flaw. He believes in asking 'What would the Founding Father's do.'

    Well the Founding Fathers were operating without a script half the time and reacted to the reality as it presented itself to preserve the USA.

    But because they were confronted with situations they had not dreamed of prior to them happening, it was sometimes the case (as it was for Jefferson) that their actions betrayed their previously held beliefs.

    Thus Jefferson negotiated the Louisiana Purchase with Federal Funds and placed the new territories under Federal control until such time as they were developed enough to join the Union. (anti Jefferson's Republican beliefs). He did this in part to help America become independent of European resources - thereby making it stronger than any European rivals.

    Without consulting Congress he sent the Frigates and the Marines off to the Med to fight the Pirates and didn't tell anyone until they were so far away that they couldn't be recalled. Thereby allowing him to secure American trade routes and punish arseholes who were kidnapping American civilians for ransom and slavery.

  4. Exactly! The world is so much more interconnected than in the days of the Founding Fathers, and even then they could not be truly isolationist. The strict isolationism that Paul advocates would be devastating for the United States. And the Rothbardian fantasies of too many self-proclaimed libertarians would be suicidal.

  5. Ron Paul Kidz Page anyone?

  6. Richard McGrath16 Jan 2008, 15:52:00

    Ron Paul has a lot of flaws, including his opposition to abortion, his pacifist defence policy and his silly anti-immigration stance which would not be needed if federal welfare was axed. Pity, because he gets so many other things dead right.

  7. Libertarians are by definition "non interventionist"....which is a hallmark of leftifism...

  8. Dancing around the subject here. Paul is an anti-Semite, a racist and a conspiracist. He's everything that should disqualify him from any public position from dogcatcher up.

    The fact the he, like a monkey, can press certain buttons and get support is no recommendation for higher honours.


  9. JC you offer no evidence for your slurs and on their basis one might equally say John Key is an Exclusive Brethren sympathiser who believes women should not cut their hair and cover their heads in public.

    It is legitimate to debate Ron Paul's foreign policy, but not to talk garbage without solid basis in fact.

  10. Blair,

    Apart from Paul's refusal to wean himself off from supporters like 911 Truthers, David Duke, various conspiracy freaks, anti-Semites etc, Paul has consistently portrayed their views over decades, as the Ron Paul newletters show:



1. Commenters are welcome and invited.
2. All comments are moderated. Off-topic grandstanding, spam, and gibberish will be ignored. Tu quoque will be moderated.
3. Read the post before you comment. Challenge facts, but don't simply ignore them.
4. Use a name. If it's important enough to say, it's important enough to put a name to.
5. Above all: Act with honour. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.